Pulitzer Finalist Asks, “Can Israel Survive?”
Provocatively titled “Can Israel Survive the 21st Century?” the lecture was advertised as an attempt by Rosenblatt to elucidate strategies to overcome existential challenges from the outside and tensions from within Israel.
Rosenblatt began his lecture by introducing his subject with a brief history of the hardships suffered by Jewish peoples. Today, Israel serves as a homeland to the Jews. However, according to Rosenblatt, Israel faces many difficulties. The first of these stems from other Middle Eastern states, many of which are hostile to the Israeli project. Moreover, argued Rosenblatt, the United Nations also hinders Israel’s development, having passed more resolutions against Israel than any other country. Still, continued Rosenblatt, Israel soldiers on. During the lecture, Rosenblatt referred to Israel as a “start-up nation” with much to show for itself in the realm of scientific and technological innovation. Furthermore, Israel’s economy remains relatively untouched by the economic crisis and its people are rated the seventh happiest in the world. Were he asked to supply an explanation for this phenomenon, said Rosenblatt, his answer would refer to the fatalism and self-confidence of Israelis.
Rosenblatt went on to discuss a number of external threats facing Israel. Rosenblatt was pessimistic in regards to the “Arab Spring”, describing it as an opportunity for civil unrest to destabilize the region. Rosenblatt’s lecture also covered the situation in Syria, for which he prescribed an intervention so as to minimize the dangers the conflict holds for both Syrians and their neighbors. Yet, Rosenblatt conceded that there would be no intervention in Syria, a fact that he views as a moral and strategic failure.
The rest of Rosenblatt’s lecture was devoted to the topic of Iran’s budding nuclear capability. An Iranian nuclear weapon could conceivably fall into the hands of groups hostile to Israel with disastrous consequences, said Rosenblatt. What angers him the most about the mainstream media’s treatment of the subject is what he perceives to be a stubborn focus on the negative aspects of a strike on Iran.
Unfortunately, Rosenblatt’s lecture ran over the time limit and he was unable to discuss internal threats to Israel’s security and stability. Asked whether or not Israel would survive the 21st century, Rosenblatt responded that he believes the historical resoluteness of Jews and Israelis alike indicate the strength of Israel.
Most audience members found Rosenblatt’s lecture interesting even if they disagreed with him. “I think it is important to have a dialogue about Israel on campus,” said Zara Feingold ’12.
Director of the Asbell Center and Religion Professor Ted Merwin agreed, adding that issues like a nuclear Iran were at “the forefront of people’s minds.”
David Milstein ’13 commented that he would have liked to see Rosenblatt criticize President Obama’s policies towards Israel and Iran more thoroughly. “President Obama is sadly more concerned about stopping Israel from defending itself than stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” he asserted.